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Sustainability must be a joint effort

31 October 2007
Sustainability must be a joint effort

Reducing your company's impact on the environment involves more than just recycled paper and energy-saving lightbulbs - it's a whole-business approach that informs every corporate decision and action and involves every employee. First Choice Coffee's Elaine Higginson explains

Every business, regardless of sector, should be looking at a more sustainable future. However, as with many things in life, it's not something that can be changed overnight.

While consumers take small steps with a weekly trip to the bottle bank and doing their washing at 30°C, businesses should be leaps ahead, as each one's individual impact as a unit is so much greater.

We try to be eco-friendly in everything we do. We're working toward fully recyclable machines, and our range of 100% certified coffees protects both the coffee-growing communities and the environment.

Whole business

But it's not just a question of the products your company produces, it's a whole-business approach, which means looking at the things you do every day - such as limiting the printing you do in the office, using recycled paper and turning off lights in unmanned offices.

You also need to cascade this awareness among your employees. Small changes to their day-to-day work could make a big difference - an employee incentive scheme could help with this. "Reduce, reuse and recycle" should resonate through the business.

However, businesses shouldn't compromise on quality when it comes to doing their bit for the planet. Selling a product that is ethically sourced is not enough to keep customers coming back the quality that they have come to expect needs to be there too. Our coffees are sourced from the highest-grown plantations to offer the best flavour while still maintaining our commitment to the environment and the coffee-growing communities.

Deliveries and service calls can be regionalised to reduce mileage and, where possible, operators should look at bulk-buying, which will cut down on delivery miles for the supplier as well as saving the operator money.

Training and reliable equipment are also crucial here. We provide full training and after-sales support with all our equipment so, more often than not, if there is a problem with a machine, the operator will be able to rectify it either off their own back or with the help of our telesales team - reducing unnecessary service calls.

The fundamentals of business have not changed - providing the best products is the essence of a successful operation - but the environment needs to be central to business strategy. Suppliers and operators need to work together to create a more sustainable hospitality business.

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